My Favourite Beers
Gonzo, oh, Gonzo. I can’t quite remember when I discovered you – it was probably in my first year at university. I remember finding you on tap at North Bar once and being PSYCHED, despite you being rather pricey. To my (faulty) memory, you may have been about a fiver a half… In the days before the craft boom really, um, boomed, this was quite expensive, and caused me to inadvertently jokingly tell a university bursaries officer that I primarily spend my student bursary on beer. In my defence, they were sitting at the bar, and chimed in when I told the conscientious bartender that the price per half was ‘fine’. “Fine?” they remarked, “Fine?”, and I smiled sweetly, told them that it was a marvellous beer, imported, and I was more than happy to pay the price: after all, that was what my Leeds bursary was for. Their mate cracked up, before the chap told me, slightly awkwardly, that he was a bursaries officer. Luckily, not at my uni..!
Student hijinks aside, this beer is a beautiful creature. Dark chocolate, freshly cut grass hops, soft spice, deep coffee, just gorgeously intense; everything I want from a dark beer, turned up to 11. I’ve tried so many imperial dark bastards over the years, and I keep coming back to Gonzo. There’s something a bit magical in that aroma, intriguing in that sip; it’s just so quaffable, which is seriously bloody dangerous at 9.2%. Most of Flying Dog, I can take or leave – although, late last year there was a very tasty batch of Raging Bitch knocking around – but this beer has been consistently marvellous. I love it. You should drink it.
As you will have deduced from the title of this post, this evening I am drinking one of my favourite beers: Thornbridge Halcyon (7.4%). I believe I first tried it at a beer festival – at a rough guess, GBBF trade day 2010. Relatively early on in my beer-drinking life, at any rate. I had already fallen in love with Thornbridge Jaipur (5.9%) – these days, a sad shadow of its former self – but as one of the first +7% beers I’d tried, Halcyon was among my first real examples of the type of big IPA I’m always on the look out for, and every time I’ve come back to it over the years, it’s been just as gorgeous.